Google News Gets Text Ads

It's a significant turning point for Google News, which has been ad-free since its beta launch in April 2002.
Google News was sued in 2005 by Agence France-Presse and in 2006 by a group of Belgian newspapers for copyright infringement. Google settled the AFP case in 2007 on undisclosed terms and now carries news links from the AFP. It was found to be infringing the copyrights of the Belgian newspaper group in February 2007 and is appealing that ruling.

Those lawsuits may have instilled more sympathy in Google for the financial straits faced by news organizations all over. Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Fortune last month that he wished the newspaper industry could be saved. However, he couldn't think of how that might be achieved. "We've tried to get newspapers to have more tightly integrated products with ours," he said. "We'd like to help them better monetize their customer base. We have tools that make that easier. I wish I had a brilliant idea, but I don't."

Asked whether Google had any kind of revenue-sharing arrangement in place to compensate news organizations for providing the content that Google News aggregates, a Google spokesperson said in an e-mail, "Yesterday's [Feb. 26] announcement is consistent with those we have done in other spheres, including text ads on Google Search results and Google Book Search search results. Publishers continue to benefit from the hundreds of millions of clicks Google sends them every month. In addition, we will continue to examine ways to help partners monetize their content on their own site and on Google News."

Google maintains that it respects the wishes of copyright owners. "If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News we remove their content from our index -- all it has to do is ask," a company spokesperson explained. "There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs."

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